Sightseeing Around Jaisalmer / Tourist Attractions in Jaisalmer
For a truly rural experience move out from the city to the 620 villages that surround Jaisalmer City. Thestrong proud villagers of this region are sure to welcome you, happy to share their meal with you. In facttheir hospitality warms the heart for in spite of having little they are likely to be offended if you leave without I at least having tea.
Some villages have a small guesthouse (usually a house of a local villager where he will allow you to stay a day or two for a small sum of money) and people with a desire to experience the ‘different’ should stay a night in a village.
The social structure in the villages is changing. Don’t miss seeing the paniharee, a lovely sight when all the f village women dressed in their colourful clothes go out to the Village Well or pond with pots on their heads to collect water. Songs are sung and gossip is exchanged. The elected panchayat head is now the most important person in the village wresting power from the traditional “Thakur” (usually a Rajput landlord ).
Rural and Mud architecture
Rural architecture has a distinct style: the material used is what is easily available and inexpensive. Traditionally villagers live in beautiful mud huts called jhoompas, lovingly decorated by the women of the family.
The ‘jhoompa’ is a cylindrical hut with a domed roof and walls made of shrubs, tree prunings and dug roots. The landscape is dotted with these attractive huts which are multipurpose in nature as they are used by farmers for both storage of chaff and fodder and as dwellings. Each family has at least 2-3 of these jhoompas. Even the rural elite contrast jhoompas along their lime-cemented stone mansions as a refuge during the hot season. Surprisingly cool in summer, they retain heat in winters making them ideal for tiring in the harsh desert climate. Unfortunately most villagers now aspire for stone houses, which are neither aesthetically pleasing not suited to the Climate.
The renowned Palliwal Brahmins inhabited 79 villagers around Jaisalmer around which are said to have been abandoned overnight. They were the wealthiest community of Jaisalmer having amassed great wealth both as traders and farmers.
Llegend has it that the Palliwals had to flee from their villages to escape persecution at the hand of Salim Singh the cruel minister who levied unrealistic taxes on them. These Palliwal villages show great sophistication in their buildings, planning of road, and design of the houses where clever techniques for storing water and irrigation were employed.
For many years these villages were neglected and a large number of artefacts and stone carvings were stolen. Kuldhara is now fenced and is maintained by Jaisalmer Vikas Samiti.
Another spectacular abandoned village is Khaba, which has a small fort from where one gets a panoramic view of the entire village. The fort has been restored authentically by the Jaisalmer Vikas Samiti. Near the ruins is a small Rajput village. The village’s energy needs are completely taken Kuldhara care of by solar energy.
This quaint little fort, 40 kms from Jaisalmer, is linked to horrifying tales of court intrigue and murder. It was during the reign of Mool Raj Singh II that Salim Singh vowed to avenge the murder of his father by Mool Raj’s son Raj Singh. Raj Singh was banished from the kingdom by his father but later due to conciliatory efforts by other Rajputs, he was invited back by his father. On his journey back he stayed at Dewa along with his quecti and two sons. Salim Singh came to know of this and set the fort on fire. Raj Singh and his queen died but the two were too were murdered at Ramgarh. A small shrine is erected in their memory and the royal family enters the fort only after offering prayers at this shrine.
Dewa is also famous for the hardy native sewan grass that grows in the vast fields that surround IL Unfortunately, due to waterlogging caused by the Indira Gandhi canal, sewan is now being destroyed. Foreigners require special permission to visit Dewa.
Sand Dunes Around Jaisalmer
To many. the sand dunes around Jaisalmer are more attractive than its architecture. Sand dunes have a magnetic quality and to watch sunset and dawn on the dunes is an unforgettable experience.
Many dunes surround Jaisalmer. The biggest and by far the most popular dunes are those at Sam, 42 kms away, but there are smaller and quieter dunes closer to Jaisalmer.
Khuri is not so far and a camel ride from the city to these dunes is easily arranged. If you do not have the time for an evening camp, do try and make it for sunset and try to watch the moon rise or have the heavenly experience of seeing a million stars on a clear desert night. Get your camel owner to cook you a meal and then relax and feel at peace with the world. The only sounds that you will hear are the ones created by you, otherwise it is so tranquil and quiet that sometimes a whisper seems as loud as a shout.
Equally enjoyable is listening to some desert music, performed live by the Manganiyars and the Langas.
Once may not be enough and you’ll go back for more.
Desert National Park, Jaisalmer
Stretching over 3162 sq. kms in the Jaisalmer-Barmer region, the Desert National Park forms 1 percent of the total arid region, housing a variety of unique species, flora and fauna of the desert in its core area. Some 25,000 people reside in the core area itself. These villagers are part of the migratory population. It is believed that there are more than 100 Great Indian Bustards here. There are also rodents, desert foxes, desert cats, and a unique bird of the area called the ‘white browed bush chat’. 18 species of snakes, 111 species of birds, 21 species of mammals and 7 species of scorpions, 108 of nonchordata and 15 species of termites are also present. These live and thrive in the loose desert sand of the National Park. Foreigners require special permission from the District Magistrate’s office to visit the parks around Jaisalmer.
Aakal Fossil Park , Jaisalmer
In Mansions of the Sun, Uma Anand writes ‘In the aeons between the death of the ocean (Tethys) and the buoyant rise of the juvenile Himalayas that still continue their upward thrust in periodic upheavals, this region (the Thar) of petrified rock has experienced cataclysmic changes. It has burgeoned in semi-tropical forest or sprouted in green Savannah, till during the last inter-gla-cial period, the winds took over, the sun came home and the desert prevailed.’
At Aakal Fossil Park 17 kms east of Jaisalmer, on Barmer Road, stumps of petrified trees, 180 million years old can still be seen. These are the earliest records of life in the Thar region. Man followed much later. It is of great interest to geologists and people interested in nature.
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